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OTT tax has nothing to do with freedom of expression – UCC boss Mutabazi

The Executive Director – Uganda Communications Commission Mr Godfrey Mutabazi during an interview with the BBC East Africa Bureau. (PHOTO/Agency)

KAMPALA – Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director has defend the unpopular Social Media daily levy commonly know to many as OTT Tax, insisting that it’s not political and that it has nothing to do with freedoms of speech as alleged by a section of Ugandans and the international community.

Mr. Mutabazi said that Ugandans should be more concerned that the wealthiest and most productive international companies which happen to be OTT platforms, including Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram etc., have eroded Uganda’s taxation potential for communication services.

“OTT Tax is undoubtedly not political and has nothing to do with freedoms of speech,” he said adding that “this is a significant reality that is being discussed world over”.

“We should also remember that these organisations, do not make any contributions to the government of Uganda in the form of taxes, and yet have leveraged off their subscription numbers, which include our local citizen figures, to generate their substantial revenues,” he said.

He explained that government needed to address the tax collection gap hence the reason to introduce the OTT Tax.

President Museveni has previously cited the same reason to defend the controversial taxi.

According to Mr Museveni, social media tax is intended to make the country benefit from the manufacturers of such social media apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

“When you post or send communication on social media platforms like Facebook or whatever, is it for free or do you pay? If you pay in local shillings, do the ones you pay, most of whom are foreign companies, take money out of Uganda in local shillings or in dollars? If it is dollars, who earned those dollars?” Mr Museveni said recently.

Mr. Mutabazi spoke to media a head of the inaugural Annual Telco Forum.

Under this arrangement the UCC will meet with the Chief Executives of the Telecom companies to discuss issues affecting the communications sector.

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